Brought to you by the letter ‘B’
It’s too easy to be a hipster these days.
Copy someone else’s visual style you saw online or in San Francisco, read a list of essential au courant bands, go shopping, grab a cold Pabst and voilà: instant paragon of coolness, right?
It’s somewhat harder to locate the polar opposite of hipsterdom. That said, I think I may have found it Saturday night at the venerable Arden-Arcade dive On the Y, where the first two bands and a drunken heckler delivered the kind of experience that one someday tells grandchildren about.
Opening was the House of Commons, or “THC,” as the vocalist reminded the sparse crowd several times. “They’re like Tool, if Tool was a reggae band,” the frontman for the second band explained. Well, not quite. More like Limp Bizkit inflicting unsolicited rumpy-pumpy on the whimpering corpse of Public Image Ltd., with Kevin Federline giving an enthusiastic thumbs up from the sidelines. The guitarist alternated between what sounded like a low-fi jailhouse PA hissing white-noise riffage and the standard waka-jawaka in the rap-rock playbook, while a turntablist provided the wiki-wiki.
But the rhythm section was truly stellar. While the drummer clattered like the late writer Lester Bangs’ description of the Shaggs’ timekeeper—“like a peg-leg stumbling through a field of bald Uniroyals”— the bassist cranked his amp and sprayed the room with an explosive diarrheac fusillade of fat, gooey brown buttnote globules that left the audience stunned.
Well, truth be told, most of the audience was at the bar getting blammed, but two large women watching the band left in disgust, leaving only yours truly and a few other stalwarts. Oh, and one wasted heckler, who looked like Will Ferrell starring in that comedy film about the totally hammered galoot who dresses like a special-needs golfer and totters around in mosh pits, slam dancing with himself.
Anyway, you’re probably thinking I’m being mean for panning these guys, but I dug ’em. It was like hearing the Shaggs, Phunk Junkeez, Womb and Rodd Rogers with the MSR Singers all rolled into one fine mess of inspired racket, and they played with élan and verve. Plus THC’s from Galt, or so they said. Check ’em out at www.myspace.com/thehouseofcommonsband.
Next up was Bypassing Oblivion. Singer-guitarist James Cundiff used to drop off homemade outsider-Americana CDs back when I worked at SN&R. But aside from covering Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” his trio is more like watching a really pissed-off Grover from Sesame Street fronting a power trio, with songs as prosaic as the Ramones at their glue-huffing finest, albeit not nearly as hook-laden.
Wasted Guy kicked off the festivities by getting in Cundiff’s face: “C’mon, do it! Do it! Let’s go, you pussies! Do it!” Cundiff, nonplussed, resolutely launched into such band originals as “Lady in White,” backed by bassist Matt Parra and drummer Brandon Diggs, who pounded a Yamaha electronic kit that looked like a garage-tool rack with pie plates attached. Check the band out at www.myspace.com/bypassingoblivion roxhard.
After two hugely entertaining bands like that, I left; sometimes one must leave such absolute perfection unsullied.
Speaking of perfection, Baby Grand has a new five-song CD, Lights Are Getting Low, filled with sweet post-Burt Bacharach pop wonderfulness. It was recorded by David Houston and mixed by Tony Cale. You can get it at the band’s CD release show at Old Ironsides on Friday, September 19, with Buildings Breeding and the Bicycle Rider.
And on Sunday afternoon, September 21, Swell Productions will host the Obama campaign fundraiser Hungry 4 Hope at four venues: Old Soul Co. (Ricky Berger), 1716 L Street, rear alley; Celestin’s Restaurant (Tracy Walton and Friends), 1815 K Street; Zócalo (Gardenia Azul), 1801 Capitol Avenue; and Aioli Bodega Española (Alternative String Band), 1800 L Street. See www.swell-productions.com for details.